Sunday, May 1, 2011

Leaving a Legacy

The greatest use of life is to spend it for something that will outlast it. ~ William James
Until I had children, I never thought much about legacy. Wasn't that something elderly people pondered at the end of their lives? After all, everyone always talks about leaving a legacy, as if it were something you could only do AFTER you left this life. But is that really true? Are we only leaving a legacy or are we building one day by day, with every word spoken and every action performed before the watchful eyes of our children?

Lately, my husband has been researching the history of our area, and what he has found has completely revolutionized my view of the phrase leaving a legacy. Since we homeschool and have a flexible schedule, we decided to spend a few days last week to take a "legacy field trip" of our area. We embarked on our first day with a sense of mystery and excitement, about to uncover the secrets of our county.

One of the places we visited was a spot along the White River (above), which was once the site of a mission built by Moravian missionaries. In 1801 John Peter Kluge, his wife Anna Maria, and 24-year-old co-missionary Abraham Luckenbach bravely journeyed from Goshen, Pennsylvania to Madison County, Indiana to evangelize the Delaware Indians. They were the first white people in our area.

These missionaries endured unbelievable hardships, loneliness, and discouragement as they sought to share their faith with the native Americans. Although many of the Delaware Indians came to believe in the missionaries' Jesus, they were persecuted and often killed for their new found faith. After five years, the disheartened missionaries packed up their belongings and left the area, feeling responsible for the lost lives of their converts.
They were now confronted by the grim reality of their situation. They were not merely in danger themselves. They were bringing death to the poor creatures whom they were seeking to save.... They gathered together their little belongings, and, on September 16, 1806, the missionaries, with the two little sons that had been born here to Brother and Sister Kluge, and a few faithful Indian converts, bade a sorrowful farewell to their home in the wilderness and turned back on the long journey to civilization and friends. The mission to the Delawares on White River was ended. ~ from History of the Moravian Mission Among the Indians Along the White River in Indiana

I'm sure as they tearfully left their home in the wilderness, the Kluges didn't think they were leaving much of a legacy behind in Madison County, Indiana. But God knew otherwise. Little did they know that the area they left would one day be the site of the world headquarters of the Church of God and home to hundreds of Protestant churches.

This bronze tablet (above) still stands on the roadside in honor of the missionaries who dedicated their lives to show the Indians the love of the Great Creator. Though they thought they had failed, in God's eyes they were more than conquerors.

As parents, we, too, may often think we're failing. We're not good enough examples. We grow weary, we snap, become impatient with our children, don't show enough love. But if we seek God's help and wisdom while building our legacy, we can be sure that His will WILL ultimately be carried out in the lives of our children in His perfect time. So instead of waiting to leave a legacy, start building one today!
Psalm 103:17-18 ~ From everlasting to everlasting the LORD's love is with those who fear him, and his righteousness with their children's children - with those who keep his covenant and remember to obey his precepts.


  1. Wow, the missionaries were there 200 years ago! That is so cool... I never knew this area had much of a history. :)

  2. What a beautiful story, and I appreciate the sentiment. I will definitely remember the action of building a legacy, now. Thanks!

  3. Steph, I can't tell whether you're joking or not! :-)

  4. Thanks for your encouraging words, Christa!

  5. Thanks for the reminder that we never know how our actions today affect the future. It's the little, daily actions that can leave a legacy rather than the big, Hollywood moment.